Ellen Eardley

Ellen Eardley

Ellen Eardley, a partner on Mehri & Skalet’s management team and co-chair of the firm’s civil rights practice, focuses her litigation efforts on representing front-line workers, managers, executives, students, and others who face discrimination – particularly race and/or gender discrimination, harassment, sexual assault, and/or retaliation in the workplace or at school.

Recently, along with co-counsel from the National Women’s Law Center and A Better Balance, Ellen led a historic class action pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against Walmart that resulted in a $14 million settlement for pregnant workers nationwide.

Ellen also advises organizations, boards, non-profits, and educators on inclusion and diversity matters.  She regularly collaborates with the diversity and inclusion consulting firm, Working IDEAL, to identify structural barriers to equity in workplaces and schools, and to develop comprehensive strategies for change.

A leader in her field, Ellen formerly served as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Civil Rights & Title IX at the University of Missouri, where she pioneered the first institutional equity office for students, faculty, and staff; implemented new inclusion, diversity, and equity policies; raised awareness of race, sex, religious, disability, and LGBTQ discrimination on campus; and led efforts to fairly investigate and adjudicate hundreds of reports of sexual violence and discrimination.

Through litigation, Ellen has secured millions of dollars and instituted sweeping changes to corporate policies and practices on behalf of people who experienced discrimination across the country, working on cases such as:

  • Brown v. Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp., No. 1:13-cv- 01345 (D.D.C.) ($7.15 million class action settlement of women sales employees’ disparate impact discrimination claims in compensation and promotion as well as sexual harassment claims)
  • White v. Holder, No. 510-2012-00077X (EEOC) (co-authored successful class certification brief on behalf of correctional officers’ claims of systemic sexual harassment in matter that ultimately settled for improvements in policies and practices and $20 million before an EEOC administrative law judge)
  • Carter v. Wells Fargo Advisors, L.L.C., No. 1:09-CV-01752-CKK (D.D.C.) ($32 million class action settlement resolving systemic gender discrimination in pay claims with significant changes to corporate policies)
  • Norflet v. John Hancock Life Insurance Co., No. 3:04-cv-1099 (D. Conn.) (historic $24 million settlement of claims on behalf of Black customers who were denied insurance in the early 1900s on the basis of race)

A proud Midwesterner, Ellen graduated first in her law school class and simultaneously earned a master’s degree in women’s and gender studies from the University of Cincinnati. She began her legal career as an Equal Justice Works fellow and counsel at the National Women’s Law Center where she focused her advocacy efforts on Title IX.

A frequent lecturer and speaker, Ellen taught sex-based discrimination law at the American University Washington College of Law for several years. She is a volunteer mentor with the American Constitution Society and also volunteers with First Shift Justice Project, a non-profit organization that helps working mothers in low-wage jobs assert their workplace rights to prevent job loss.

Ellen uses she/her/hers pronouns.

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